There is so much to say. And also nothing. I’m tired. Not like the physically exhausted you get from doing too much or staying out late. I’m soul tired. And also really fucking angry. And that’s as we would say in the psych business, an appropriate response. A friend recently said to me, “well, I don't know about you, but I plan on dying angry.” And I totally get that.
I have been struggling with my responsibility as a mental health advocate in what to say or what to post when people’s lives are put so directly in harm's way. Whether it’s guns or restrictions on healthcare, war, or equal rights. And sadly, I haven't had the energy to step into that role this week. Like I said, I’m real fucking angry and my soul is exhausted.
And to be honest I have lost nearly all of my objectivity when it comes to men. Maybe forever. I’m not sure. And I also know I do not need to timeline that or feel bad about it now or ever. This situation was put upon us by a very long and unfortunately quite brilliant and strategic plan that has been unfolding my entire life. I’m certainly not spending my own precious therapy hours trying to make myself not feel anger toward men. White men specifically, as they seem to be overwhelmingly responsible for most recent misguided decisions. Not on my dime. Anger is an appropriate and psychologically healthy response to basic human rights being taken away. Yet this lack of objectivity has made me question stepping into a leadership role as someone who knows the data, knows the science, and can without any reservation say that banning abortions is a bad idea. Not only for people with a uterus but for EVERYONE.
When I have a moment of clarity and am able to do what I do best and zoom out on all this for a broader perspective, I recognize quite easily the behavior involved in these decisions is a commonality of those who resist change. Change is hard. Tremendously hard. It involves trust, facing the unknown, flexibility, and a capacity to tolerate fear. I have never met anyone who wasn’t afraid. But I meet a lot of people, my clients included, who are scared and change anyway. We are born to change. Change is natural to our development and greater evolution. To refuse to change is to refuse to grow and a refusal of growth is a kind of death.
Change is hard. But so fucking what?
What I do know about change or lack thereof and have seen over and over within systems and groups whether they be organizations or families, is that those who are unwilling to change within a system grasp onto their power with complete desperation. They know change is afoot and they resent the hell out of it. They punish those who are unafraid of change with exclusion, humiliation, and torment. They make change seem the enemy and those creative enough and growth-oriented enough to entertain bigger ideas, crazy. It can be difficult to see this from a wider focus and not get swooped into the emotion and complexity of the specific kind of torment, exclusion, and or humiliation. What I’m saying is that it can be impossible to see the undercurrent at play among a collective of dumpster fires. But fear and refusal to change is what lies beneath.
With the threat of change as a tide that should occur naturally as part of our species - we are intelligent after all and a core component of intelligence is to change trajectory when we have taken in new information - people who fear change become desperate. And this desperation is what moves them to hold onto power even when it is so quickly slipping from their grasp.
And people who consciously choose not to change know that exclusion, torment, and humiliation is supported by making everyone feel as desperate as they do.
To stay in power requires three things; keep the people starving, stupid, and scared.
And that’s what the last 6 years have been about. Controlling resources, education, and safety to not only keep those in power powerful but to ensure that this power is held by white men specifically. And it started thousands of years before 2017.
As a community, if we are not provided what we need to survive, be healthy, and become educated, we lose our collective power. If we are convinced that some people are worth less than other people, that there is only one winner and never enough to go around, we lose our collective power. We can be led anywhere because we no longer trust each other. The collective becomes our competition for survival and we live in fear.
Poverty is man-made. Inequity is man-made. Many of the struggles we now face are man-made.
If people are hungry, struggling with addiction, stuck in poverty, struggling with mental health, unable to make ends meet, under constant stress, and always in survival mode, we get frozen in scarcity and fear, unable to fight. We become overwhelmed with decisions and lack the ability to take in new ideas. The starving causes stupidity. And the stupidity prevents us from thinking critically and challenging new ideas. Starvation, stupidity, and being scared keep us from being able to entertain change. If there was ever a time to NOT be another brick in the wall, and challenge absolutely everything, and be scared and do it anyway, it’s now.
So how do we fight this fear of change? It seems so big. And yeah it is. BIG. So much bigger than just one issue. This feeling you have. The anger, grief, fear, and exhaustion, we feel this way by design. Overwhelmed by design. Soul tired by design. Because this exhaustion and overwhelm moves us closer to starving, stupid and scared. By design. This is the plan. They are counting on it.
But it’s not my plan. And that is an important distinction.
I wrote a few weeks ago about joy as an act of protest. And just as the quickest way to prevent change is to keep your people starving, stupid and scared, the quickest way to support change is to honor joy.
When shit gets real, I like to remind my clients to honor the data. Find the facts. Write them down. Educate yourself on what is indisputable. About a situation and ourselves. We have a lot of data! In fact, we accumulate data on ourselves every minute of every day. That we don't like pistachios, enjoy Harry Styles or really like pinball. And these little facts are much more profound than we give them credit for. These little seemingly insignificant pieces of data help point us in the direction of what we do like. What gives us peace. Provides us rest, potential, and aliveness. Grounds us enough in ourselves to know that it is not required of us to be another brick in the wall. These are the things that provide the potential within us to not only tolerate change but work toward it.
This is not an either-or, but a both-and scenario. Be angry, soul tired, and also remember what makes you feel alive and try as hard as you can to be in that in some small way every single day. Joy is what provides the energy for action. The rest, receivership, lead to action. Whether it is listening to your favorite album, taking a walk in nature, looking at the stars or holding your dog so tightly - that's what they are for by the way. Do the thing. Remind others the importance of doing the thing. Prioritize one of the things. Let’s ask each other what we have done today to prioritize joy. “What did you do today that felt good?’ Even if it was just the taste of a donut. And do not underestimate the smallness of it. One minute of yoga is better than none. A five-minute walk counts. One favorite song during the commute still counts. These little moments add up. Because truth be told, all the minutes count. We do not get to pause this moment in time because it sucks so hard. These minutes count. And I am not about to spend them being stuck in someone else’s fear of change. Fuck that noise. Forever.
So I’ll conclude this hot mess of a scientifically based rant with the following question, “what did you do today that felt good? “ And I will continue to ask this question every day on Instagram. I encourage you to start asking this question. Text friends this question. Ask your UPS delivery person this question. Do not forget the significance of your joy. The power of your peace. Because just like your anger, you're allowed to feel it. And it will propel you forward for the fight ahead.
Leave a comment